Potential NJ Casino Strike Could Push More Gamblers Online

Among the bigger avenues of competition for legitimate online casinos operating outside United States borders are legitimate online casinos operating inside United States borders.

Of course, while offshore betting sites are available to just about everyone in America (and usually at just 18 and up), in-state online casinos are few and far between.

Only a handful of US states currently offers local legal online casino games, and iGaming is limited to 21+ gamblers who are physically located inside the states in question.

In other words, if you step outside your state’s borders and want to play some real-money online slots or legit online blackjack, you’ll need to make other plans.

Of course, not everyone wants to play online casino games even when those games are commonly and conveniently available. Mobile casino gambling – or even gambling on a desktop or laptop computer from home – just isn’t for everyone. Old-school players enjoy the social element of casino gambling.

And everyone likes comped drinks.

So even as the domestic casino industry is slowly but surely moving online to better position itself against the legal offshore casino industry, there are plenty of holdouts keeping things afloat on the retail side.

Which makes this particular situation in New Jersey all the more interesting.

Today, Atlantic City’s primary casino workers union – the Local 54 – will hold a vote to decide whether or not its leadership can call a strike.

The work stoppage, if authorized, could apply to any or all of Atlantic City’s nine brick-and-mortar casino venues. At issue, naturally, is worker compensation.

Per union spokeswoman Bethany Holmes:

“We’ve been saying for some time now that casino workers need a real raise. We’re two weeks past our contract expiration, and we’ll continue to try to get there with the companies, but we’re taking a vote this week to put in the hands of the negotiating committee the power to call a strike, if necessary.”

In a time of virtually unprecedented inflation, massive resource shortages, high unemployment rates, and generational cost-of-living increases, it’s hard to fault the union for acting now – even though the stakes of doing so are higher than they’ve ever been.

Strikes are always risky – Just ask the bakers who put Hostess out of business. But this particular walkout is even riskier precisely because of the aforementioned online gambling space.

New Jersey, remember, is one of the few US states with legal domestic iGaming, and all its retail casinos offer online gambling games via numerous branded iPhone, iPad, and Android casino apps.

What’s more, aggregate casino revenue through these online gambling portals is actually higher than land-based gaming revenue in the state.

If NJ casino workers go on strike, the online casinos hosted by these venues won’t go offline. People will still be able to bet, and regulars on the fence about online gambling might finally go over to the other side.

And if they do, studies indicate they’re going to stay there.

As such, once the strike is resolved and workers return, there might be fewer patrons than ever to serve – and thus fewer positions than ever to fill.

In recent years, New Jersey’s gambling economy has already been bailed out twice – first with the overturning of PASPA and then again with the legalization of online sports betting (which gave new visibility and a fresh revamp to the state’s longtime iGaming products).

This latter development was especially crucial, as it helped the state stay afloat even as its retail gambling sector shut down for half of 2020 due to COVID concerns.

But in that time, the physical gambling market saw a considerable permanent transition to online play.

If this new strike actually takes place and lasts just a day or two, it may not cause a mass player exodus to the online casino space. However, if the strike drags on for weeks, it very well could.

Hopefully, there will be no strike, and all parties involved will be able to come to an amicable compromise.

Even though we enjoy online gambling a lot more than we like playing in person, we definitely don’t want to see the retail industry – and all the unique entertainment experiences it provides – go the way of the dodo in AC.

Here’s hoping!